I have chaperoned MANY field trips during my years as a parent of two elementary school kids and a teacher for several years before then. They have all been interesting and educational in their own ways. However, I don’t think any of them have been as meaningful as the one when I accompanied Doobie’s third grade class to Upward Bound House’s Family Place earlier this school year.
Upward Bound House’s mission is to eliminate homelessness among families with children, and Family Place is one of their projects. Not only does Family Place offer transitional housing for homeless families, but it also provides parenting and life skills classes for parents and enrichment activities for children, among many other services, as the families work to move on to permanent, self-sufficient housing.
Throughout our years at our elementary school, Upward Bound House has always played a great role in our community service opportunities. We have collected loose change to put in a “Pennies from Heaven” jar to help furnish an apartment. We have donated cans of food to Family Place’s The Pantry through our school’s annual Marathon Canned Food Drive (where we sponsor members of our school community who are running in the LA Marathon by pledging cans of food for one of their 26.2 miles). And every year the school encourages all families to participate in the UBH “Home Run for Kids” walk/run, which our family was able to do a couple of years ago.
On our field trip to Family Place, a representative first spoke to the students about what Family Place is and does, and then she took us on a tour of the facilities. Our first stop was the underground garage.
This was the part of the tour that I found most interesting. It wasn’t just a garage. Besides being brightly painted and offering bicycles for use, it housed The Pantry and Hidden Treasures. Both of these “stores” offered items to the families at no cost. The money they would otherwise have spent on food and clothing can now be added to their savings for use down the line when they move into their own housing.
We continued through the facilities, even seeing a furnished apartment. We wrapped up the tour with a visit to common areas and an outdoor courtyard which included a play structure and vegetable gardens.
Sonny, my oldest son, also visited Family Place as a third grader. I didn’t go on that field trip. I have been familiar with the mission of Upward Bound House, but I haven’t known anything too specific about it. Now that I’ve visited Family Place myself and heard and seen what they do for families in need, I have a whole new appreciation and understanding about UBH and Family Place. Donating loose change and canned food and participating in a run will have much more meaning for us now that we know exactly what goes on there and how our donations are being put to use.
On Sunday, March 6, 2016, Upward Bound House will present its fourth annual ”Home Run for Kids” along San Vicente Boulevard in Brentwood. There will be a 5K and a 10K Walk/Run and also a Kiddie K. All proceeds go directly to UBH. There will be an expo and pre- and post-race entertainment for the whole family. The event draws crowds of community members and over 1,200 registered runners and walkers, about which 200 come from our school.
It looks like our calendar is free of other sports events that morning, so we look forward to participating again and doing our small part to help solve family homelessness in Los Angeles. If you’re a local resident, consider joining us!